A GUIDE to safe and effective chemical weed control while retaining maximum standing stubble and reducing wind erosion in the northern agricultural region will be the result of a two-year Crop Circle Consulting program of trials.
The trials are funded by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and aim to provide herbicide use advice for a stubble retaining strip and disc system for wheat, canola and lupin crops.
Crop Circle Consulting director Grant Thompson said stripper front systems gave maximum ground cover and erosion protection.
"We've had some major wind storms in the northern agricultural region in recent years," Mr Thompson said.
"This has increased grower interest in maximising standing stubble and minimising soil disturbance even further in a no-till system to keep the topsoil where it belongs and prevent wind erosion."
Strip and disc systems are excellent for keeping stubble intact to slowly decompose over several seasons.
First, the striper fronts harvest high, leaving behind as much of the plant as possible, then at sowing time the disk seeder parts the stubble like a comb to plant with precision, creating minimal soil and stubble disturbance.
Mr Thompson said the piece of the puzzle that was not clearly defined was herbicide use and weed control.
"Those already using strip and disk systems are not confident with how some pre-emergent herbicide for grass and broadleaf control can fit into the system," he said.
"Disc systems are precise and the soil is hardly disturbed at all so pre-emergent herbicides could be in close proximity to the seed where chemical uptake could inhibit germination.
"Over many years growers have done really well combining knife-point and press wheels with chemical weed control, so growers want confidence they can maintain that weed control if they opt to maximise stubble retention with a strip and disk system."
Trials in four locations across the northern growing region from Mingenew to Ogilvie will compare 17 different herbicide treatments, including the new Bayer broad-spectrum product, Mateno complete, due for release this year.
"Over the two years we are going to try lots of different combinations of herbicides, sprayer and nozzle calibration, soil types and stubble length," Mr Thompson said.
"I am hoping for some clear winners but also some spectacular failures in plot-sized trials so growers can avoid paddock wide damage to crops."
This year's trials will focus on herbicide application with disk seeding, year two of the project will test herbicide deposition and efficacy in three different stubble lengths.
Growers will have access to the trial results during the season via grower group field walks and the GRDC onfarm trials website.
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